As part of the government’s aggressive push for more energy efficient lighting options, the Department of Energy announced Friday it had awarded more than $37 million in stimulus funds for research and development projects that will help advance the market for products that use light-emitting diodes, or LEDs.
A significant portion of the 17 projects selected to receive money were proposed by well-known lighting companies, including General Electric, Osram Sylvania, Philips and Cree. The awardees have promised to pony up an additional $28.5 million in private-industry matching funds for the projects, and to spend the money in the United States.
“These solid-state lighting projects will help us significantly cut our energy use, reduce our carbon footprint and save money,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement. “This funding will also support the United States as a global leader in this rapidly evolving industry, creating high-tech, value-added jobs.”
This is the sixth round of Energy Department funding for solid-state lighting projects, but the first time money has been given to develop better manufacturing technologies. According to the department, the focus on manufacturing is part of a new initiative to accelerate adoption of LEDs by improving quality and cost – while also encouraging production in the United States.
A considerable amount of LED manufacturing occurs in Asia, according to the department’s solid-state lighting research and development plan. The plan states that developing advanced automation methods could improve product consistency, reduce labor content and potentially make domestic production “a more attractive option than it is today.”
Lighting accounts for about 24 percent of the total electricity generated in the United States, and the Department of Energy estimates that LEDs – which have the potential to be 10 times more energy efficient than traditional incandescents – could shrink electricity use for lighting by a third nationally by 2030.